Columns, Psyched About Cycling

Psyched about cycling: Always use protection: U-locks, helmets and more

Despite the bike-friendliness of the Twin Cities—in terms of both infrastructure and culture—safety and security are paramount for the well-being of you and your bike. Feelings of entitlement and complacency are as dangerous in bikers as they are in drivers; reckless biking makes the entire cycling community look bad. Although the infrastructure in the
Twin Cities is designed to promote bike awareness, keeping safety and etiquette in mind is the best way to maintain the positive image of cyclists and keep accidents from happening. When cyclists follow the rules of the road, they are seen as a normal part of traffic rather than a nuisance in the eyes of uptight drivers.

Safety doesn’t stop when you get off your bike—theft is relatively common if you do not secure your bike properly. Below are some guidelines to prevent the loss of your two greatest resources—your body and your bike.

Bike Safety
(Adapted from Share the Road, a program from the MN Dept. of Transportation.)

• Bicyclists may ride on all Minnesota roads in the same direction as traffic, except where restricted. This means you have all the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles.

  • You’re just as entitled to the road as drivers are. But that means you have to be aware and respectful!

• Motorists must maintain a three-foot clearance when passing a bicyclist.

  • You should also give cars some space. Pay special attention to cars parked on the side of the road (getting doored equals urban biking at its worst. Watch side mirrors as you go by to make sure no one is about to get out.)

• Bicyclists must obey all traffic control signs and signals, just like motorists.

  • That means no running red lights, tempting as it may be.

• Bicyclists and motorists must yield the right-of-way to each other

  • If a car is yielding to you, go ahead, even if they do have the right of way. “Minnesota-Nice” drivers do this a lot.

• Bicyclists must signal their turns and should ride in a predictable manner

  • “Riding in a predictable manner” means using turn lanes as you would if you were driving. Don’t be afraid to get in
    between two cars if you’re making a left turn.

• Lights and reflectors are required at night.

  • Don’t have reflectors? Stop by Mac Bike; they usually have extra! Lights are available at several nearby bike shops
    and are a great investment for city biking.

• Bicyclists should always wear helmets.
– They might seem inconvenient, but nothing is more inconvenient than a concussion during midterms. Protect your greatest resource. Buy one or check one out from the library.

Bike Security

Locks

Purchase and use a good quality bike lock! It is the best investment you can make after the initial purchase of the bike. Cable locks are mostly a visual deterrent and are easy to cut through. In the urban area we’re in at Mac, getting a bulkier U-lock is worth the extra weight and price. It could save you hundreds of dollars in the long-run.
Read the instructions carefully for your U-lock so you know how to use it properly! Don’t just lock the front tire; it is easy for thieves to take the wheel off and steal away with the rest of your bike. Make sure to lock your frame securely to the rack (or whatever you’re securing it to), and lock both your frame and front wheel simultaneously when possible.

Always lock your bike—even if you’re only running inside for a second, that’s all it will take for someone to ruin your week (or year).

Bike registration and important information

It is highly recommended that you gather and save the following information: manufacturer, name, model and serial number, color and the price paid. It is also a good idea to take a picture of your bike and save it with your other bike information. This will greatly increase the possibility of you or the police finding your bike if it is stolen and resold.

Information Technology Services has provided a template that makes it easy to save information about your bike and other valuables. You can access the document by clicking on “Personal Inventory Template” in the toolbox section of the webpages at Macalester ITS or Safety and Security.

September 20, 2013

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